Education Spotlight – Scarlett Larson, the Founder of Parcel Arts!

Today I have a special treat for everyone! One of my friends started her own textile education business and I just love it! I’m so grateful there are programs like this to get children and adults into fiber arts! Today we get to check in with a very lovely human being! One of my favorite humans, the very talented Scarlett, founder of Parcel Arts!

  • I haven’t seen you since pre-pandemic times. Tell me what you’ve been up to this past year…
    • The past year has been a wild ride! In June of 2020 I left a full-time position and started Parcel Arts. I’ve spent my spare time playing with my toddler, gardening, running to stay sane, and I’ve somehow made it through the pandemic without adopting a pet. (I’ve had to remind myself that two dogs are plenty!)
  • Well, let’s start with a bit of background for the readers. Tell us a bit about yourself.
     
    • Sure! I was born and raised in the Twin Cities and I attended Minneapolis College of Art and Design (MCAD) and received a BFA in sculpture. Soon after graduating my partner and I moved to New York City.

      We lived in Brooklyn and while exploring the neighborhood I found the Textile Arts Center (TAC), which was located a few blocks away from our apartment. Towards the end of my BFA I leaned heavily into textiles, so I went inside and inquired about volunteer opportunities. I joined their after-school classes and within a couple months they asked if I would be interested in teaching a weaving class for youth. I didn’t know how to weave, so I quickly picked up a few books and dove in. When the class was complete, they asked if I would start managing classes at their Manhattan location and directing their youth camps that were hosted on campus at NYU. It was such a great experience and I have such wonderful memories of the kids creating knitted ropes that extended all the way across Washington Square Park. I worked at TAC until we moved back to Minneapolis.

    • After settling back into Minnesota life, I became an instructor at a Waldorf School while teaching at numerous art institutions around the Twin Cities. After about a year I started as a contractor developing programs at Textile Center in Minneapolis and soon after I jumped on board full-time as their Youth Education Associate. I spent five years at Textile Center running numerous youth and outreach programs until I left and started Parcel Arts.
  • So you’ve always been invested in education?
    • In my early teens, my mother passed away from breast cancer. So I was 13, trying to grapple with life’s great questions; meanwhile my peers were enjoying teenage freedom. My new adult lens led me to have a less than enjoyable high-school experience–except for my time spent in the art room. That was the only place where I felt safe. (It feels odd to say that, but that’s how I felt.)

      Luckily, I had an amazing art teacher named Mr. Nitzberg who was highly involved in numerous arts communities. He would frequently recommend and share opportunities for his students to partake in. I remember him telling me about how I could take art courses at a community college and MCAD full-time during my senior year. Ditching out of my senior year of high school and attending art school seemed like a no-brainer, so I worked my tail off to get into the programs. When I started courses at the two colleges, I felt like a huge weight had been taken off my shoulders. I finally was working on things that I was interested in, with peers that felt like “my people”.
      While at MCAD I was exposed to so many different art forms and had my first taste of teaching. I was so inspired by youth students who would create without hesitation. The subjects and color combinations they came up with were spectacular. I remember just sitting there in awe at their creations when they said that they’ve never painted before. I think this is what drove me into arts programming. The arts are constantly being cut from city and school budgets, especially where it’s most needed. I want to do my part in ensuring access to underserved communities who may not receive the same opportunities.
  • When did you start Parcel Arts, and what motivated you to start it?
    • There were many motivating factors in starting Parcel Arts but I finally made the leap and started the LLC in June of 2020.

      First and foremost, I have always been in love with creating authentic art-making experiences. I wanted to create an accessible and safe place for participants to make mistakes and grow. I also wanted to facilitate dedicated time where people could think about who they are as individuals, self-process ideas, learn new skills, and then share their developments and creations with others. This lead me to think critically about the programs I’ve been involved in over the years, what worked well, what was unnecessary, how to overcome or avoid barriers, and how to create a connection amongst participants—even in a virtual classroom. That last part is the most important; you cannot have successful programming without meaningful connection.

      Supporting teaching artists is critical to the mission of Parcel Arts. I’ve worked with thousands of incredibly talented artists over the years and I wanted to continue to support them and their work, even during the pandemic. I know so many artists who aren’t just masters at their technique but spectacular community facilitators. I wanted to create opportunities for them and compensate them with fair wages for their work. (We pay over double the average teaching artist rate in Minnesota.)

      This all led to creating the hybrid program model that is Parcel Arts. I also need to credit my sister-in-law, Marcy, who is an attorney and offered to draft all the paperwork pro-bono. (I still paid her in chocolate.)
  • Do you operate all over the Twin Cities metro? What markets are you in?
    • Yes, we offer classes all over the state of Minnesota and beyond thanks to virtual learning models. We work with independent groups, organizations, civic amenities, and companies—virtually anyone who has an established group of individuals who are seeking an art-making experience.
  • What are the types of classes you offer?
    • I work with a team of talented artists who teach everything from fiber art to comic drawing. Our classes are developed based on current art trends, the skills and interests of instructors, and specific requests from groups.
  • How does someone go about hosting one of your classes?
    • Our website is the easiest way to learn more about our classes, you can visit us at www.parcelarts.com.
  • What’s the endgame for you here? What do you want to see Parcel Arts doing in 5 years from now? 10 years from now? 
    • I have many goals and dreams for Parcel Arts. First and foremost, I want to continue to offer comprehensive art experiences that exceed the expectations of our partners and students. I am constantly assessing and updating our model, studying art trends and techniques, and chatting with our teaching artists about ideas. I dream about a perfect model, but that is constantly evolving as the needs of our partners and students change over time.

      In the next year or two I would love to start a mentorship program. I graduated from college during the 2007 recession, so I know how difficult it can be to find your grounding. It would be a training program where emerging teaching artists would work with established teaching artists to get hands-on experience and guidance of leading an arts classroom.

      It would be amazing, in the far future, to develop a line of art materials. I’m constantly sourcing materials for Parcel Arts, my personal practice, and for my child. I geek out on it a bit, and my child who is 3-years-old is an excellent quality tester.
  • So one of the models I was working with on my latest art project asked me this question, and I found it rather thought provoking. If you got a 20,000 dollar grant for Parcel Arts what would you do with it? Where would you take Parcel Arts?
    • First, I’d buy a new desk chair. My current one is falling apart but I’m having a hard time giving it up. (I found it in a film prop shop in NYC and it’s bright orange.) Then I would find a grant writer to support a few community initiatives I have in mind. After that I’d sock away the rest until I could afford a marketing specialist to help me scream our mission and programs from the rooftops.  

To contact Scarlett at Parcel Arts check out the links below!
Website: www.parcelarts.com
Instagram: www.instagram.com/parcelarts/
Facebook: www.facebook.com/ParcelArts/

Here are some photos of the classes Parcel Arts has to offer!

Michael’s Roses

A quick little series I did over the last week is called ‘Michael’s Roses’. It’s 16 pieces, and now I only have 11 of them because the titular Michael has piece number 12. One of these days I’ll get a scan of it, but for now, you can enjoy pieces 1 through 16 minus #12. They are 8 by 10 prints, and soon you’ll be able to see some of them at Promise You Art House in Highland, In!

Michael’s Rose #1

Follow the jump for the rest of the pieces…

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Artist Spotlight: Maddie Ley

Today I have the great honor of giving the monthly Artist Spotlight to Maddie Ley! (Yes, it’s a new thing I’m doing. Monthly Artist Spotlights!) I met Maddie about a year ago, and I can tell you, she is one astounding talented human! I was there when she got that rigid heddle loom from a mutual friend. I can claim I saw parts of the beginning!

From the Amazing Maddie herself:

I’ve been absorbing and teaching myself fiber art for about a year and a half, and I didn’t start a consistent art practice until after I finished college in 2018 – so I am very new to the title of ‘artist’. I am more familiar with the role of voyeur, earning my B.A. in Art History. The largest influence in my direction toward fiber art has been my employment at Textile Center in Minneapolis, MN. My immersion as a fly on the wall in classrooms, a liaison for the many different guilds affiliated with the center, and an organizer of youth summer camps quickly assimilated me into the world of textiles and fiber. I took home a hand-me-down rigid heddle loom, after I had outgrown the 2” x 3” cardboard looms we were using with youth campers. 

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Toxic Medicine: Part 4 – The Apology (Ego is the Enemy)

For those of you just joining, you can catch the start of the idiocy that was my medical treatment here.

After my time with the unfortunately board certified Dr. Mark Fesenmyer, (which you can read about here) I had another appointment with Dr. Katherine Foley. 

So, this should be prefaced with Dr. Foley’s sheer ignorance. I asked her, and I don’t mean I asked her in a roundabout, obscure way, I mean I asked her flat out, “If you don’t feel qualified to treat me, please recommend someone else.” Do you want to guess what her response was? Her medical assistant called me and left a voicemail saying “Dr. Foley feels she is fully capable of treating you. It is your right to get a second opinion, but Dr. Foley feels she is fully capable of treating you.” 

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Roving, Roving, Roving, and wait, More Roving

It’s been a busy week! I’m repainting the photo studio at work, and making roving in my free time. I’ve got so many projects in my head, it’s hard to find the time and upper body strength to keep up. Turning my carder for hours is quite the arm workout. (I’ve even been trying to make sure I switch arms, so one doesn’t get more ripped than the other.) Needless to say… my back is killing me! I can live with that, but now I have a sty on my left eye… and that’s my good eye. The other one doesn’t work very well. So it’s been fun!

Speaking of health concerns, I did update the Dr. Mark Fesenmyer post with some documentation from his office – mainly communications between staff and myself. So you can check that out.

Seriously though, making the most of it! I promised some forest themed yarn to someone, so I’ve been reclaiming the acrylic for that. It’s a process, but I’m keeping acrylic out of landfills and making some gorgeous yarn! I recently posted some of the yarn I made on reddit, and people over there loved it! One of them suggested I do an online class on making some of my art yarn… I think I might have to. Maybe I’ll post a poll later with some class ideas, and people can vote…

Back to the topic at hand… ROVING! Follow the jump to check out some of my roving sets!

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How I’ve Kept My Sanity: Crafting Through Misdiagnosis… (Part 3.5)

After posting Part 3 of the Toxic Medicine series, I posted some of the scarves I’ve been working on, but forgot to post the yarn I spun! So we’ll call this “Part 3.5”. I love spinning yarn, but holy heck is it time consuming. I did not know that when I started spinning, but it is rather easy to start and stop, so I can always walk away and come back to it later. Perhaps later this week, I’ll post some of the art roving I have waiting in the wings for future felting or spinning projects.

The first yarn after the jump is some I used in one of the scarves from my nuno felting scarf post referenced above.

To see the yarn I’ve made in the last couple weeks, follow the jump…

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How I’ve Kept My Sanity: Crafting Through Misdiagnosis… (Part 3)

I finally posted Part 3 of the Toxic Medicine series, so I thought I would show you guys what I have been working on. My strength is coming back, but I get worn out so easily. I’m used to carrying people, not because it is part of my job description, but for funsies. Now I get tired carrying a couple 50 lb. boxes yarn around the building at work. So, no large exhausting projects for me, but nuno felting scarves is my new passion. I can finish one in a day, and I only work up a mild sweat when I start needle felting aggressively for some of the edges.

To see some of the scarves I’ve made in the last couple weeks, follow the jump…

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Toxic Medicine: Part 3 – The Gastroenterologist Mark Fesenmyer (Ignorant or Lazy)

I should have read up on the reviews for Dr. Mark Fesenmyer… They suck! He’s not very well received, and now I know why. So the main question I have after seeing him…

Dr. Mark Fesenmyer are you ignorant or lazy?

CHECK OUT HIS HEALTHGRADES REVIEWS HERE

YOU CAN READ MY GOOGLE REVIEW HERE

In the words of Julie Andrews, “Let’s start at the very beginning. It’s a very good place to start.”

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